tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS May 3, 2011 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
has ever had to make. david martin is at the pentagon tonight and, david, based on what the president knew and didn't know, this was a very big gamble. >> couric: katie, the more you find out about this mission, the more you realize what a roll of the dice it was and how close it came to disaster. after months of studying satellite photos of the compound, c.i.a. analysts concluded there was only a 60% to 80% chance bin laden was really there. in the photos, a man could be seen coming out of the main building and walking around the courtyard as if for exercise. but it was impossible to tell whether he matched bin laden's height. photo interpreters analyzed the pattern of daily life and determined the family in the main building had the same number of members as bin laden's family. none of them ever left the fortress-like compound. it was hardly a smoking gun-- which explains these words by president obama's counterterrorism advisor. >> the president had to evaluate
the strength of the information and then made what i believe was one of the most gustiest calls of any president in recent memory. >> reporter: and explains the tension on the faces of the president and his topped a visors as they followed the mission from the white house situation room. they were listening to realtime reports relayed by c.i.a. director leon panetta from vice admiral william mccraven in afghanistan. this was mccraven's operation. he called the automobiles when things started going wrong. four helicopters, two black hawks and two chinooks took off from jalalabad in afghanistan. 160 miles from the compound. the black hawks carried 25 seals. the chinooks had a backup force and extra fuel for midair refueling. the seals planned to fast rope on to the roof of the main building right over bin laden's head while the second hilo dropped its seals on to the courtyard. but the second hilo lost lift and had to land, clipping its
tail rotor on a waltham. forced the first hilo to change plans and land its seals on the ground. they now had to blast their way through walls, losing precious minutes an the element of surprise. 25 minutes went by. panetta heard nothing from mccraven and the president heard nothing from panetta. what was supposed to be a 30 to 35-minute operation was now pushing 40. the seals were shooting their way up the stairs to bin laden's bedroom. finally mccraven reported "geronimo e.k.i.a.." geronimo code name for bin laden. e.k.i.a. enemy killed in action. only one black hawk could fly so mccraven sent in a chinook to help pick up the seals who were hauling bin laden's body a and a treasure trove of captured computers, c.d.s and paper files. the hilos headed straight for an aircraft carrier where bin laden was to be buried at sea.
only then did the tension in the situation room begin to break. when a seal burst into that third floor bedroom, bin laden's wife rushed at him so he shot her in the leg. that left him standing right in front of bin laden. bin laden was unarmed but the seal thought he was a threat so he shot him twice. katie? >> couric: and, david, doesn't that support the notion that this was, in fact, a kill mission? >> well, the seals certainly weren't there to give bin laden the benefit of the doubt. but only that seal knows why he pulled the trigger. >> couric: all right. david martin at the pentagon tonight. david, thank you. earlier today i talked with c.i.a. director panetta, the man in charge of the operation, and i asked him why photographs of bin laden taken after he was killed have not been released. >> well, i'm sure the concern is that just the nature of the photos themselves are such that
it could, in fact, be used to try to develop the revengeful nature of what al qaeda is all about and try to inspire them to take even further action against us. i think that's the concern. >> couric: yesterday, white house counterterrorism advisor john brennan said the navy seals were prepared for a capture or kill mission. if, in fact, they had taken osama bin laden alive, what were the plans? >> i think we always assumed from the beginning that the likelihood was that he was going to be killed. perchance he were to be captured, i think the approach was to take him quickly to bagram, transfer him to a ship off shore and then have the principals at the white house decide what next steps would be taken. >> couric: in a "washington post" op-ed today president zardari of bin laden was not "anywhere we had anticipated he would be." given he was hiding about a half
mile from pakistan's top military academy, somehow that possible? >> we don't really have any intelligence that indicates that pakistan was aware that bin laden was there or that this compound was a place where he was hiding. but having said that, this was a location that was very close to a military academy. it was close to another sensitive military sites. it had been there since almost five years ago. it was very unusual as a compound. i just think they need to respond to the questions about why they did not know that that kind of compound existed. >> couric: but common sense would dictate that they had to have some idea. come on! >> (laughs) well, that's why there are questions here that i think the best people to respond to those questions are going to be the pakistanis. >> couric: what role, if any, did the pakistanis play in this operation? >> this is this has been a long process, obviously, developing a lot of streams of intelligence. and some of those streams of
intelligence were kind of in the normal process of working with the pakistanis. but they were never aware of our focus on this compound or in bin laden and we made the decision that we would not inform them that we would conduct this operation unilaterally on the part of the united states. >> couric: former president musharraf has criticized that, the fact that they were not informed that this operation was going to transpire. what's your reaction to that? >> i think that president bush, president obama have both made very clear to the pakistanis that if we found a location where osama bin laden was located that we were going go in and get him. and i think they understood that very clearly. >> couric: author salman rushdie, himself no stranger to islamic fundamentalism, of course, wrote yesterday that perhaps the time had come to declare pakistan a terrorist state. does she a point in your view?
>> obviously it remains a very complicated and difficult relationship. but i don't... i don't think we ought to break the relationship with the pakistanis. look, we are virtually conducting a war in their country going after al qaeda and at the same time we're trying to get their help in trying to be able to confront terrorism in that part of the world. and they have given us some help and they have given us some corporation. >> couric: one of president obama's first acts was to outlaw enhanced interrogation techniques. now, some of these were used on detainees who provided by information that led to bin laden's whereabouts. given that, do you think the use of these techniques should, in fact, be re-evaluated? >> no, i really don't. you know, i think what we had here were a lot of streams of intelligence that came together. and i think it's probably going too far to say it all ties to just one source of information that we received. we were looking at a lot of lines of information, going back a long way.
>> couric: having said that, some valuable information did, in fact, come from enhanced interrogation techniques. >> obviously there was some valuable information that was derived through those kinds of interrogations, but i guess the question that everybody will always debate is whether or not those approaches had to be used in order to get the same information. and that, frankly, is an open question. >> couric: we solicited questions from facebook and a lot of people are worried about some kind of retaliation. what are you most concerned about? >> the fact that bin laden is dead does not mean that al qaeda is dead. the president gave me the mission to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al qaeda. and while the step we took in the last few days was very damaging to al qaeda, we have a lot more work to do to truly defeat them. >> couric: in fact, bin laden's number two, ayman al-zawahiri, is still out there.
is he now public enemy number one in your mind? >> he's moving up very fast on the list. you know, we'll see how it plays out because they've got to go through the effort to try to decide who, in fact, will replace bin laden. we think that will give us some opportunities to be able to continue to attack them in the confusion and debate that they're going to go through as to who ultimately replaces bin laden. but i can assure you whoever takes his place he will be number one on our list. >> couric: c.i.a. director leon panetta. thank you so much for talking with us. >> thanks, katie. >> couric: and we posted the full interview with leon panetta on our web site at cbsnews.com meanwhile, the town in pakistan where bin laden was hiding out is a quiet one and, up until a few days ago, nobody there gave a second thought to the odd-looking compound with the giant walls. not the neighbors and supposedly, as we just heard, not even pakistani authorities. but today it was crawling with
curiosity seekers and elizabeth palmer took it all in. >> reporter: in the full light of day, no longer a hideout but an empty cement house. this is the compound where osama bin laden lived and died is now infamous and everybody wants a look. inside, evidence of a violent battle, along with a passport believed to belong to one of bin laden's wives. now that the police are allowing access to the area around the house, half the neighborhood spilled out to marvel at the fact that they've been living next door to the world's most wanted man without even knowing it. meanwhile, after a last sweep, the house is being sealed and there is some suggestion now that it will be bulldozed to avoid it becoming a shrine to osama bin laden. of course, there is curiosity and also frank disbelief. >> there's no bin laden house to be honest, i'm telling you. because i've lived here more than 35 years. >> reporter: and yet here it
is, a fortress flanked on all sides by simple family homes. its high walls now scorched by the fire fight that left bin laden dead. so how could a 6' 4 celebrity terrorist make himself invisible? in one of the most secure towns in all of pakistan. some 120,000 retired and active duty army personnel live here. and pakistani officials insist that not one of them noticed when osama bin laden moved in. they're now desperate to put this huge embarrassment behind them. >> what we are trying to do here is to look to the future. this issue of the osama bin laden, it's history. >> reporter: but american officials want to know, were the pakistanis just incompetent when they missed this hiding place right under their noses or did they actually collude with al qaeda? elizabeth palmer, cbs news,
abbottabad, pakistan. >> couric: one man who perhaps should have known about bin laden's hiding place is per pervez musharraf, the former president of pakistan. lara logan is our chief foreign affairs correspondent and lara, when you spoke with him today he seemed to get a bit defensive. >> reporter: he certainly did, katie. when general musharraf was in charge osama bin laden was already living in the compound where he was killed and we asked the general about this, speaking to him via satellite from dubai where he's now living, and he insisted that nobody knew. >> i do agree that it is surprising. it needs to be investigated. who slipped up? why this negligence? >> reporter: you are really asking people to believe that this all happened without the knowledge of the intelligence services and the military and that it came as a complete surprise? >> yes. yes, i'm saying that. and i mean every word of it. >> couric:. >> reporter: it's just very hard believe that osama bin laden could have spent all this time in pakistan living right under your noses and nobody
would have known about it. >> (laughs) why are you continuously saying that? i think instead of wasting time on this issue, let us agree to disagree on this point. i don't agree. >> reporter: this general also disagreed with us when we interviewed him on "60 minutes" in 2008. we pressed him on what pakistan was doing to find bin laden. this is what he told us then. >> there is no proof whatsoever that he's here. >> reporter: and today? >> i don't remember at all having said that he surely not be in pakistan. >> reporter: you said there was no proof that he was in pakistan. >> yes, there was no proof, obviously! those who were saying that he's in pakistan, i don't think he was... they were talking with any evidence. >> reporter: general musharraf vigorously defended pakistan's past efforts to track down al qaeda leaders. >> we have achieved successes and that should be recognized. if we continuously keep blaming the army and the i.s.i. for what they have not been able to do, well, if they haven't been able to do then it is c.i.a.'s
failure also. >> reporter: do you know of any other terrorist leaders wanted by the united states that are sheltering in your country? >> well, there may be more. there may be, yes. >> reporter: al qaeda's number two, ayman al-zawahiri, and taliban leader mullah omar, are just two of the senior terrorist leaders believed to be based inside pakistan, katie. >> couric: lara logan in washington. lara, thank you. and coming up next here on the "cbs evening news" from ground zero, with bin laden gone, is it time to bring u.s. troops home from afghanistan? [ male announcer ] a moment that starts off ordinary
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imagine how happy you'll be receiving it. one more way quicken loans is engineered to amaze. >> couric: back now from ground zero. osama bin laden's trail of terror did not begin here. he was also wanted for the bombings of the u.s. embassies in kenya and tanzania on august 7, 1998. in all, more than 200 people were killed, including 12 americans. and more than 4,000 were wounded. in octoberçó of 2000, the bombig of the u.s.s. "cole" in the port of aiden in yemen killed 17 american sailors and wounded 39. and, of course, the attacks of september 11, 2001, killed nearly 3,000 and injured twice that many at the pentagon, in shanksville, pennsylvania, and here at ground zero. it was shortly after 9/11 that u.s. forces invaded afghanistan
to hunt down bin laden and oust the taliban and began working closely with pakistan in the war on terror. now the death of bin laden raises new questions about the u.s. role in the region in the months and years ahead. mark phillips is in kabul. >> reporter: the head may have been cut off the snake, but somewhere in these afghan hills u.s. intelligence estimates as few as 100 fighters now make up the remaining body of the al qaeda snake still active in afghanistan. and with about 130,000 troops, including 90,000 american, chasing them and their taliban allies, the killing of osama bin laden in pakistan has reopened the debate on whether the strategy in this war is the right one. afghan president hamid karzai has had an "i told you so" moment, saying the killing proves what he's always said, that the fight is not here in afghanistan itself but in al qaeda's safe havens across the
border. >> the war on terror is not in afghan villages and afghan houses and it has to be conducted where it's most effective. >> reporter: the al qaeda training camps camps that provoe post-9/11 u.s. invasion are long gone, but the fear now is that the rump of the organization will be incited to strike again. >> they want to show that o sap ma was our leader but the network is remaining and we are powerful enough to do whatever we like to do. >> reporter: the major fight here now is not with al qaeda but with the resurgent taliban and it, too, is threatening reprisals. >> reporter: the problem is what it's always been: creating an afghan state that is strong you have no resist being controlled by its more fundamentalist elements. that's why american troops came
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>> couric: and finally tonight, in the 63 years this broadcast has been on the air, one thing has remained constant, and this is change. at least from time to time. and change is coming here again. cbs news announced today that on june 6, scott pelley of "60 minutes" will become the anchor and managing editor of the "cbs evening news." scott's a great reporter, a consummate professional, and a real gentleman. i join everyone here at cbs in wishing him well. and that is the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric. good night. ca
now, "entertainment tonight," the most-watched entertainment news magazine in the world. >> ding dong the witch is dead. >> the stars speak out about the killing of osama bin laden. from back stage at "dancing." >> on to the next one. >> to the met gala in new york. >> i was very happy for president obama. >> plus, the new anchor of the cbs evening news. that is a humbling thought. >> and l.l. on tv. >> my character is a former navy s.e.a.l. >> but who are the real life navy s.e.a.l.s. who took down bin laden. >> william's bride and that gorgeous gown. >> what some of hollywood's biggest stars thought about kate's dress. >> iov